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Seniors thrive in Theatre West debut

After a smashing weekend of successful productions, Theatre West proved once again their excellence in the performing arts. However, the traditional brilliance would not have been possible without two new seniors -- Ethan Upchurch and Cole Davis -- both of whom finding success in their first and last West High production.

Jiung Jung and Kara Wagenknecht

At the beginning of senior year, Cole Davis ’17 and Ethan Upchurch ’17 had no experience with a Theatre West production, let alone a complex musical such as Les Misérables. However, after they both joined choir, their love for music flourished. By the time Spring rolled around, they decided to try out for the musical.

“I just thought I was going to try something new,” Davis said. “A lot of it had to do with Ethan doing it, too.”

“I decided to join because I had always loved watching theatre productions and musicals, but I had always been too reserved to do it,” Upchurch said. “Also, senior year is the year to try things, and it turns out that I love doing this, so it turned out pretty good.”

Following a rigorous, selective audition process, Davis and Upchurch both impressively received parts in the play. Upchurch received the role of Marius Pontmercy, while Davis played as Prouvaire, a student fighting in the revolution against the French government.

“[Marius] is a fearless leader until one day when he falls in love with a girl named Cosette,” Upchurch said. “I think I fit into the character because I have a lot of attributes in common with my character, and rumor has it that I kind of look like him.”

As rehearsals began, Davis and Upchurch soon realized the enormous time commitment and effort that came with a musical, from the actors to the people behind-the-scenes.

Kara Wagenknecht

Senior Robert Wise played the role of Javert in the musical.

“I never knew how many people were actually involved in the production,” Upchurch said. “While the actors may be the ones on stage, the crews and the orchestra and the directors are all what really make this thing work.”

Albeit intimidating to enter a musical with no prior experience, both Davis and Upchurch have felt welcomed since the beginning. As a result, the time they spent at rehearsal turned out to be one of the most memorable moments of high school.

“My sleep schedule is a little messed up because of rehearsals,”  Davis said. “But it’s definitely manageable, and my favorite part of Les Mis would probably be all of the inside jokes that have accumulated since the start of rehearsal.”

“Even though we are new to the program, the entire community has welcomed us with open arms, and it has been so awesome,” Upchurch said.

From April 7th to April 9th, Les Misérables debuted in the Arganbright Auditorium, stunning audience members with the quality of the musical.

“It was better than some of the professional productions I’ve seen,” said history teacher Mitch Gross. “I was very impressed by Ethan’s singing as well.”

For these two seniors, the performances became an experience they would never forget, and they are taking more than just better acting skills out of their Theatre West experience.

It’s kind of made me more confident with everything that I do,” Davis said. “I never wanted to sing in front of other people, but now its helped me get over stage fright I might minor in theatre now, because I liked it so much. “
“I think now I feel like I have more confidence in the things that I do, and I learned that if you have an interest in something, just try it,” Upchurch said. “It really can’t hurt to try.”

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Seniors thrive in Theatre West debut